Eric Dier makes his debut as Spurs overcome Schalke in final pre-season outing
19:31 09 August 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Eric Dier made his Tottenham debut in Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge at White Hart Lane as Spurs completed their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 victory over Schalke.
Emmanuel Adebayor gave the Lilywhites the lead in an impressive first-half display, and Roberto Soldado doubled the advantage after the interval.
Schalke hit back 10 minutes from time, but Spurs emerged triumphant, finishing their friendly programme unbeaten and with four successive wins.
Hugo Lloris made his first appearance after the World Cup, but there was further concern over Kyle Walker, who was absent from the squad for the second friendly in a row.
Having previously faced three MLS outfits and a heavily weakened Celtic side, the Lilywhites were now facing good quality opposition.
Schalke finished third in the Bundesliga last season, but Spurs dominated the first half with crisp passing and unpredictable movement between the front four of Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor, while Lewis Holtby also popped up in attacking areas.
Spurs got in behind their visitors early on, with Adebayor getting down the right and squaring to Lennon, but the offside flag went up early – and, possibly for that reason, Lennon missed anyway.
Soon after Lennon, who was generally deployed on the left flank, darted through on goal to latch onto a through ball from Nabil Bentaleb, but the flag went up again.
The little winger was heavily involved, and a crisp passing move across the field resulted in a through ball to Lennon, but Schalke keeper Ralph Fahrmann came out quickly to snuff out the danger.
Spurs threatened again in the 19th minute as Younes Kaboul found Adebayor with a diagonal ball over the top – and the Togo forward brought the ball down with a neat touch but just allowed a sliding Kaan Ayhan to get back and get a crucial touch as he was shooting at goal.
Three minutes later Lennon picked out Bentaleb on the edge of the box, but the Algeria international sliced his effort wide.
The deserved opening goal followed soon afterwards – and again Lennon was at the heart of the move. Picking the ball up in the D, he moved the ball left to free Holtby, and the German fired in a low cross for Adebayor, who took a touch and finished with aplomb.
Tottenham’s back line had not been severely tested, but Dier had a brief, nervy moment as he gave the ball away and then tried to do too much to make amends, getting caught in the midfield.
However, the England Under-21 international was soon showing his quality, winning the ball on the edge of his box before playing a quick pass to start a counter-attack.
It was an impressive first-half display and, although Pochettino made four changes at the interval, they picked up where they had left off immediately after the restart.
Substitutes Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane quickly combined, with the former freeing the latter with a fine through ball, but the 21-year-old Englishman was challenged by a backtracking defender just as he got his shot off inside the box.
Kyle Naughton was required to block a volley from Dennis Aogo but Spurs were soon back on the offensive, with Andros Townsend running free down the left and picking out Soldado, who fired wastefully high and wide from the centre of the box.
Kane appealed for a penalty as he tried to escape the last Schalke defender in the area, and Townsend then saw a 25-yard effort parried before popping up on the right side to receive a wonderful reverse ball from Eriksen. Unfortunately he steered his finish around the wrong side of the far post.
Schalke began to look more threatening and Dier showed his strength by getting across to block Tranquillo Barnetta in front of Lloris, while Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting directed a header at the French keeper.
However, it was Spurs who found the net again in the 66th minute. Fahrmann saved Townsend’s initial strike but Soldado got his head on the ball, and it looped over the stranded Schalke shot-stopper and bounced into the net.
The German side fought for a route back into the game and Christian Clemens got down the right and found Max Meyer, but he shot wide from a good position.
Clemens then got to the by-line again and delivered a low cross, which Naughton cut out at the near post, but his block hit Kaboul and was relieved to see the ball trickle wide of the goal.
Schalke got their goal with 10 minutes left as Aogo got down the left and picked out ex-Spurs man Kevin-Prince Boateng, who slotted past Lloris from a central position.
Suddenly the result was in doubt and the visitors nearly equalised as Donis Avdijaj twisted and turned on the edge of the box and fired towards the bottom left corner, with Lloris getting down to make a good save.
It was Tottenham who finished on the front foot though, creating three chances. Soldado just overhit his pass across the box to substitute Cristian Ceballos, but the Spaniard turned and forced a diving save from Fahrmann.
Kane then freed Soldado but the striker trod on the ball on the edge of the box – although it appeared the ball may have slowed at the crucial moment - and Spurs then found themselves four on two, but Fahrmann denied Townsend and Ceballos was unable to convert the rebound, lifting the ball over the bar.
The late missed opportunities proved not to matter though, as the final whistle went shortly afterwards, and Tottenham will go into their Premier League campaign in confident mood. They kick off at West Ham next Saturday.
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul (Fryers 78), Dier, Rose (Davies 45), Bentaleb (Carroll 73), Holtby (Ceballos 82), Eriksen (Sandro 66), Lamela (Kane 45), Lennon (Townsend 45), Adebayor (Soldado 45)
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